American Horror Story: Chapter One
September 15, 2016 9:00 AM - Season 6, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Matt and Shelby, a interracial couple decide to move to North Carolina and get away from the big city for peace and quite, to start a new life until Shelby starts seeing strange things that haunt her day and night.
posted by DirtyOldTown (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was hoping the tv show framing device would just be for this episode, we'd see some crazy stuff, give Paulson and Gooding and Bassett a chance to slum in dramatization style, and then next week have new characters move into the house. But it doesn't look like that will happen. Honestly I'm not sure the device works for me long term, it adds a layer of abstraction, of "this is not really happening," of "of course these characters are going to be fine they're being interviewed" so the spooky stuff isn't as effective. If I can't break through that layer of abstraction this might be the first season I'm actually able to abandon.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:29 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've watched 5 minutes and 32 seconds of this on my lunch break and I want to immediately register my anger that they depict near the North Carolina coast as having a landscape with anything resembling a hill.

Okay now back to watching.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

of "of course these characters are going to be fine they're being interviewed"

Yeah, I dunno, this set off my "plot twist incoming" meter somehow. I just can't see American Horror Story going out of its way to highlight this arm's-length space between the viewer and the story and not fuck with that space in some way. We've already got the couple being shown a Blair-Witch-ish video in their own home, which while not necessarily related (or ever going to be related, or even guaranteed to be ever brought up again, this is AHS after all) is still in that same thematic vein of tying the communication medium to the scares in some way.

I dunno, too early to tell, but I think this season's got promise so far.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:10 PM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm calling it now: giant psychedelic fungus under the forest floor.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:38 PM on September 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've enjoyed the openers of each of the previous seasons, but I found this one rather jarring because the talking heads made it more difficult to suspend my disbelief. I hope they can do something interesting with the format, though.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:54 PM on September 15, 2016

It's the 1st ep. I'm rather interested in the racial conflict of the time/space. I've liked, like, 70-80% of the series. But the rare likeliest like was awesome.

Open mind for this new season. Hillbilly voodoo? Lovecraftian degenerates? Hillbilly mutants?
posted by porpoise at 9:20 PM on September 15, 2016

I went in expecting the worst based on the reactions I'd seen online, and finished it slightly non-plussed. I like the smaller cast and more manageable storyline.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:35 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am having a lot of trouble accepting that size and style of house as having been built in rural North Carolina in 1792.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:23 AM on September 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

I agree with Yellowbinder. The re-enactment/documentary style format is interesting but whether this interest can be sustained for an entire season remains to be seen. I do hope that they mess around with the narrators in some way. It would be more interesting if they flipped the script at some point this season and we got a more behind the scenes look at the filming of our narrators. I remain hopeful.

My own experience with the past few seasons of AHS is that they start out strong but soon become far too convoluted and messy. I tend to lose interest at the half-way mark. I think it's because these stories are so steeped in excess. I hope that this season stays more tightly focused and does not keep on introducing new threads and new characters. It just wears me out.
posted by Fizz at 9:11 AM on September 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

10 minutes in. He's still in a coma duh.
posted by ian1977 at 2:12 PM on September 18, 2016

Also the people being interviewed aren't the 'real' people. They are actors auditioning for the role of this story. The ones acting out the story are the 'real' people and I suspect it's all a dream in the coma guys head. I'm probably wrong tho.
posted by ian1977 at 2:26 PM on September 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

During argument between sister in law and wife:

Wife: where were you when dude was in that hospital room fighting for his life??

Umm....probably doing whatever she does cuz magic wife lady woke him up fifteen minutes after they got there with her loving hand touch right? She's mad that sister in law didn't teleport to the hospital????
posted by ian1977 at 2:38 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I actually thought this was a pretty successful course correction after the unfocused mess of season 5.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:12 PM on September 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Season5 was a mess but it was a hot mess. At least give it that. Crescendo of promise...denouement of disappointment. Just like every other season ?
posted by ian1977 at 6:53 PM on September 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm actually pretty sure Season 5 was supervised by Jordan Peele's sequel doctor character from the Gremlins 2 writer's room sketch.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:07 AM on September 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

"Okaaaay, what if everybody gets to design their own spooky hotel person?"

"Um, like rapist ghoul drillbit penis?"

"You just listed some horrible nouns, like you're playing Mad Libs. You just like a child. You have the brain of a child. You do not have a high IQ but you haphazardly came up with a terrifying sodomy monster. You a crazy person, and your idea's on the show! Done."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:43 PM on September 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

I watched and enjoyed the first season and then came back for this one* having missed all other seasons, so I'm not as familiar with whatever things the show has done wrong. From that perspective, this was all pretty enjoyable? I don't love stereotypical hillbillies (again, no hills) as villains, and I did enjoy the reenactment gimmick, but then I'm a sucker for horror's fake verisimilitude tropes. I was happy with it, and will keep watching.

*The mystery theme thing worked on me, because I am highly susceptible to advertising.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:36 AM on September 20, 2016

I didn't finish the last season and I thought I was done with AHS, but it's managed to pull me back. I always want to see what ideas they throw at the wall, even if they lose me quickly.

I thought this episode was really engaging. The framing device with double-cast roles was pretty innovative, and they can't abandon it easily: Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson are both cast mainstays who they'll probably want to keep around for most of the season. And the fact that we haven't seen the traditional AHS opening yet hints that the real main storyline and theme hasn't started. It's enticing. I'm hoping for an Asylum quality season.

It was scary too. I discovered with this episode that horror is great to watch at the gym because I start running like mad to burn off nervous tension and anxiety.
posted by painquale at 12:14 PM on September 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

The "knockout game" reference in the first five minutes made me roll my eyes so hard that they jumped out of my head and turned the TV off. Oops.

Other than that, I've seen too much Investigation Discovery (also big on the casual propagation of racist tropes) to really enjoy this.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2016

It's surprising how weird it is to have AHS set in your own backyard. When Matt talked about going to Raleigh to get the big WakeMed account my wife actually gasped.

I'm also cautiously optimistic that the framing device will get fucked with somehow - maybe the descriptions of the events start to not match up with the events as they happen in the "re-enactment" and we get some good unreliable narrator stuff happening?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:34 AM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

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